Watching the ocean, the peaceful series of waves can seem never ending. This beautiful sight might also harbor an important source of clean energy for the future. The Cyprus-based company Sea Wave Energy Limited (SWEL) has designed a floating generator which moves with the movement of the waves, producing power as it undulates. Called the Wave Energy Converter (WEC) or the Waveline Magnet, it offers a cheap and environmentally friendly way to produce energy which could be on par with fossil fuels.
SWEL has been developing wave-based generators for 10 years. Earlier this year, they released the design of their prototype WEC after much research and design progress. The floating plastic platforms are easy to produce, affordable, and linked together like a flexible “spine” that bends with the waves. It is cleverly engineered to translate the motion of ocean waves into energy, producing as much as 100 MW of power under ideal conditions. This high output paired with its lower cost make it competitive among fossil fuels which dominate the energy markets.
Last year, the company tested the device in Larnaca Bay off of Cyprus. More testing and development is needed to commercialize the WEC. However, the company designed it to be flexible enough to withstand a variety of open water conditions. It can also be crafted from recycled materials, further boosting its eco-friendly image. The WEC will hopefully be deployed in an ocean with an electrical grid connection within five years, according to SWEL's timeline as begun in 2019. Perhaps in some number of years wave power will be as common as solar, and these floating “spines” will adorn coastlines around the world.